About two months ago I made a reservation for a US hotel through Booking.com, using a prepaid credit card. The hotel tried to check my card on May 19th (past the free cancellation period, which was only until the 10th), which was denied because like an idiot I'd put in the wrong expiration date. I was given 24 hours to fix it, which I did. The problem was I misread the amount due (I didn't notice that the quoted value didn't include a 15% fee), so when the hotel actually tried to charge my credit card I didn't have enough money on that card since I usually don't put more money in it than what I actually need for safety reasons.

Since the 24 hour period to fix issues with the card had already passed, the booking was automatically cancelled.

I immediately received an e-mail from booking.com saying the reservation had been automatically cancelled, that no further action on my part would be necessary and that put the total cancellation cost at 0 dollars. Checking the booking.com reservation, it still says the booking was cancelled for free.

Cue to today, when the hotel again tried to charge me (though an amount lower than the one I'd have paid for my stay).

Do I have to pay this fee since the reservation was cancelled after the free cancellation period? It doesn't seem fair since I'm being charged for a reservation that was automatically cancelled by the property and I couldn't use. Or do I not need to pay since I wasn't the one to cancel it, and all the booking.com information says I don't have to pay anything? What should I expect?

I'm going to contact the property regardless, but I'd like to have some idea of what usually happens in this situation.

  • 3
    I'd block the card and have the hotel reach out to me if necessary. You're an honest buyer in this situation and shouldn't be responsible for the hotels payment issues.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 10, 2018 at 20:05
  • They may be trying to charge you the cancellation fee. Jun 11, 2018 at 14:14

3 Answers 3


Contact Booking.com and include the information of them which shows that the booking was cancelled for free.

That was why you did not not take action and they should sort it for you. Many of this kind of cases is misunderstanding somewhere, often between the booking site and the hotel and the site is often good in sorting it.


With Booking.com, you need to always read the fine print.

Pre-payment, cancellation, no-show and fine print


Booking.com cannot likely resolve this. It is best for you to contact the front desk at specific hotel, not the corporate number, and explain the situation. If you are kind and friendly, mostly likely they will be able to resolve it.

One thing I cannot stress enough - extreme politeness, kindness and an appeal for empathy will be far more effective in resolving any travel situation than anything else.

  • booking.com has taken care of several alike problems to my knowledge, so it is always worth to contact them, certainly as their message made OP not take action, so booking.com has some responsibility.
    – Willeke
    Feb 25, 2019 at 15:51

Regardless of the cancellation policies stated by third party booking agencies/sites like booking.com, Priceline, Hotwire, Trivago, Travlu, Hotels.com, Expedia, and blah-de-blah (there are so many), they do not have real-time, on-going access to the policies of the individual properties for whom they make booking/reservation arrangements.

In other words, booking.com may tell you that the free cancellation period is up to 4 days before your reservation arrival date, but the property itself may have a 24 hour policy, or there may be a local event drawing large crowds, which would necessitate a greater time period for free cancellations.

Never rely on any information that does not come directly from the property itself. The property itself, not a website associated with the property name (i.e., Country Inn & Suites is a Radisson property but many of the individual locations are independently owned and franchise the Country Inn name).

  • 4
    If you book via booking.com the hotel has to follow at least what they put on the site. They can offer better conditions but not worse for the customer. The hotel decides which conditions booking.com offers. And those conditions may well differ from what the hotel offers on their own site.
    – Willeke
    Feb 25, 2019 at 9:24

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